Shire of Murray show commitment to heritage

Heritage: Cr. David Bolt with Eileen Mcpherson and Vanessa Blank at The Court House. Photo: Josh Cowling.
Heritage: Cr. David Bolt with Eileen Mcpherson and Vanessa Blank at The Court House. Photo: Josh Cowling.

Ensuring the prosperity and longevity of Murray's heritage assets plays an important role in achieving the Shire's vision of creating vibrant communities, strong local economies and diverse tourism destinations.

For thousands of years our region has been home to the Bindjareb Noongar people.

In 1834, Murray also became one of the earliest areas of European settlement in Western Australia, boasting a rich cultural heritage with many places of significance, built by pioneering families, still in existence today.

We understand the value of our district's heritage assets and that a proactive and measured response to heritage management is required, bolstered by collaborative local community input.

Over the last 12 months, the Shire has worked hard in conserving several historically significant buildings.

Built in 1938 and a National Trust of Western Australia property leased long-term by the Shire, Pinjarra's old Court House is an apt example of heritage building adaptive reuse.

The Court House is now a contemporary space for creatives, small business owners and entrepreneurs to co-work, co-create and co-innovate.

It was officially opened in January 2019 through the collaborative efforts of the Shire and local place making group, Pinjarra Connect.

Consistent with the Shire's commitment to and investment in local heritage, works are currently underway to remove the unsightly exterior of the former Exchange Hotel and conserve the building's heritage elements including the 1866 Dr Bedingfeld cottage and 1925 kitchen, dining and accommodation sections.

The Shire is now looking to attract a suitable investor/operator to ensure the reopening of the building, to once again become a befitting amenity of the Murray River Foreshore. Conservation works are anticipated for completion at the end of June 2019.

In May 2018, Murray community members rallied through the St John's Church Fundraising Appeal, to raise funds for conservation and adaptive reuse works to protect and activate the significant community and heritage asset.

Built in 1860 and one of the oldest structures in Pinjarra, St John's Church is an early example of British-style architecture and a key component of the town's heritage precinct.

I can proudly say that conservation works were completed in late-April, with the amenity officially open to the public as of Saturday, June 1.

Conservation efforts have enabled public access and adaptive reuse of the building to compliment the surrounding heritage precinct, which includes Edenvale Homestead.

Built in 1888 by Edward McLarty, Edenvale Homestead is an important Western Australian landmark reflecting the early pioneer life of the district.

Liveringa Homestead, Pinjarra Heritage Rose Garden, Old School House and the Old Schoolmasters' House, together with Edenvale Homestead and St John's Church, comprise Pinjarra's heritage precinct - one of the district's premier tourist sites.

Together with Old Blythewood, the former family home of John and Mary McLarty, who were among the first Europeans to settle in the district in the 1840s, and the heritage listed Pinjarra Post Office built in 1895, each contribute individually in telling the story of Murray's unique pioneer years.

The Pathways to Pinjarra Heritage Trail endeavours to tell this story, connecting trail users with the people and events of Pinjarra's past.

Commencing at Edenvale Homestead, the trail winds along the main street and down the Murray River leading users through 19 stops.

Together with the local community, we will continue to drive responsible heritage management and conservation initiatives in order to recognise, respect and promote our unique heritage assets.

We will also continue to work diligently towards our vision of offering attractive, diverse destinations in and around Pinjarra, to compliment Mandurah's coastal lifestyle and Dwellingup's trails town transformation, each offering visitors an authentic experience.

Pinjarra is no longer a sleepy historical town but a vibrant destination that has embraced its unique heritage.

Cr. David Bolt is Shire of Murray president.